NACI says people 50 and over should receive reminders – .

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NACI Update Guidelines in Light of Omicron – .


OTTAWA – The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now strongly recommends that adults over 50 be offered COVID-19 reminders, while those aged 18 to 49 ‘may’ be offered reminders depending on individual risks and where they live.

NACI also reiterates its previous recommendations to prioritize recalls to people living in long-term care homes; those who have received two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of Janssen vaccine; some immunocompromised individuals; adults from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities; and frontline health care workers who have direct close physical contact with patients.

NACI continues to align with Health Canada’s authorization that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines can be offered as a booster for anyone 18 years of age and older, at least six months after the primary vaccination course.

However, citing evidence of lower reported rates of myocarditis or pericarditis after the Pfizer vaccine, the CCNI suggests that this is the preferred vaccine to be given as a reminder to people aged 18-29.

Overall, the groups that NACI now strongly recommends to be offered boosters were among the first to be prioritized for initial vaccine doses, meaning they are closer to reaching the six-month deadline. after the second dose than younger age groups.

Considerations suggested by NACI in determining the need for a booster dose include: local epidemiology, regional health system capacity and access, and vaccine update rate in the population.

In addition, Canadians should consider whether they are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19, if they are at increased risk of declining protection, or if they are at high risk of transmission to HIV. others when they decide to receive a booster dose.

“NACI recommends, and Canadian health authorities agree, that immunization of those eligible, but who have not yet received the primary series, continue to remain the top priority in Canada,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, announcing the latest findings at a press conference on Friday.

“The modeling results suggest that the booster doses should reduce infections and serious illnesses in the population, at least in the short term,” the NACI report reads.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, provinces and territories are responsible for deciding their vaccine deployment eligibility strategies and whether or not to follow NACI’s recommendations.

UPDATE ARRIVES AMID OMICRON’S FEARS

The updated advisory comes after the federal government on Tuesday requested that the NACI “promptly” revise its guidelines on prioritizing COVID-19 booster injections in light of concerns about the Omicron variant.

While it’s not clear just how transmissible and severe the B.1.1.529 variant infection could be, as Omicron is highly mutated, health officials have expressed concern about its resistance to the vaccine.

“Now and during the winter months, as the virus continues to circulate around the world and the significance and impact of the omicron variant of concern is being assessed, the need for vigilance increased remains, ”Tam said.

NACI said that while the emergence of Omicron has been factored into updating these guidelines, vaccination experts have also taken into account the recent increase in cases of COVID-19 and others. evidence of the potential benefits and safety of booster doses.

“NACI recognizes that the epidemiology of COVID-19 … and the evidence on COVID19 vaccine booster doses is evolving rapidly and continues to monitor the evidence,” the latest report read.

When asked what his advice would be for people now considering waiting for a booster in case a new vaccine formulation targeting Omicron is developed, Tam said if that is the case, it could take several months. before another vaccine is available.

“The Omicron variant specific vaccines are going to take months, but at this time we have the potential for a Delta increase,” she said.

DO THE THIRD STROKES BECOME COMPULSORY?

With NACI now recommending, either strongly or on a discretionary basis, third doses of Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines for all adults, questions were raised on Friday as to whether the current two-dose vaccine series could be expanded to include require three doses to be considered fully vaccinated.

In its report, the NACI says that, although they currently describe these third doses as boosters, intended to stimulate the immune response once protection has diminished, they continue to monitor whether the third injections should be considered part of the regimen. primary series to establish a stronger immune response. .

“NACI will adjust terminology as necessary,” reads the latest guidance.

In an interview with the CTV News Channel on Friday, Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table, suggested that Canada should no longer call these third booster doses.

“For many age groups, this will only be the third dose that will be needed,” he said.

Speaking of whether third doses might become necessary, Tam said it would become clearer as time passed and the long-term effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines would be better understood.

“It’s an evolving story … Historically, in other immunization programs, I think it’s worth noting, as with hepatitis or the human papillomavirus, that the original permitted schedules have evolved over time, over the years, as we learn more… and we learn to refine and optimize the program within the series, ”NACI Executive Secretary Dr Matthew Tunis said during the press conference. “It’s a fairly normal progression within vaccination programs. You start with what’s available when products are first licensed and clinical trials are conducted, and then over time we iterate, study, and evolve.

DOES CANADA HAVE A REINFORCEMENT?

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said if the call was to expand access to COVID-19 booster injections, the supply would be there.

“There is no problem with the quantity of vaccines. We have a lot of booster shots in Canada, we get more in the new year. We’re doing well in terms of quantity, the question is what is the best recommendation for people to get these boosters and when, ”Trudeau said.

Juni said part of the math with Canada’s booster supply plays into ongoing questions about whether or not Canada should offer third doses to healthy adults rather than prioritizing the sending doses to other less vaccinated countries to potentially help prevent further mutations in the virus.

“We can’t eat the cake and have it too. Either we now take out those doses of vaccine that we have in our freezers and send them to low- and middle-income countries, or we use them here. It doesn’t make sense to play it safe and keep them in the freezer, ”he said.

“So either we protect our population… if they now start to see that we really have a challenge with Omicron, or we just say ‘OK, we’re ready to play’ and then we give those third doses. The point is, it doesn’t help anyone if they stay in the freezer, and that’s one of the discussions we should be having, ”Juni said.

As part of the COVAX global vaccine sharing initiative, Canada has pledged to donate 200 million doses by the end of 2022, although so far around 8.3 million doses have been data.

Ministers are expected to have more to say about the federal response to COVID-19 and Canada’s vaccine supply and delivery schedules at a press conference at 1 p.m. EST.

With files from CTV News’s Sarah Turnbull.

More soon…

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